Recently I had the pleasure to attend a meeting of the Madera County Planning Commission. During this meeting the topic of the Chowchilla Sportsman’s Club’s request for approval of a shooting range in the rural Chowchilla area was on the agenda. I was impressed by the presentations made by those in favor and those opposed.
Comments Commissioner Donald Holley gave for his rejection of the project caused me concern. He spoke to his concerns for the project in part to his experience with weapons while serving his country in the military and what he determined was that the project was not on a parcel of land big enough to accommodate the needs of the project and its neighbors who were in opposition.
He's also made comments that he had noticed crimes of violence in the media lately and that gave him concern when it came to this project.
I am a retired 30-year peace officer and a cattle rancher who listened to the comments at this meeting and find all parties to have strong points and valid concerns.
However, what I find very troubling were the comments made by Commissioner Holley equating crimes of violence on the street to those who applied for this permit. These people are not criminals and are responsible gun owners. In my 30 years as a peace officer I found that criminals, not responsible gun owners, are the source of crimes of violence in the streets of America.
For Commissioner Holley to make a back-handed correlation between these responsible gun owners, their project and crime on the street is irresponsible on his part and not based in fact. It is clear that Mr. Holley did not do his homework.
He knew this was an agenda item and had a staff report to review before he came to the meeting. If he had a concern about crimes of violence on the street and these types of proposed projects and those that relationally shoot firearms, he should have done his homework to educate himself about those concerns and not rely on anecdotal information from the various media outlets. As a public official, Commissioner Holley is responsible for all of his comments while sitting in that position. In this case he was casual and irresponsible.